Your car's engine needs a healthy flow of air to keep working – without air, it cannot burn fuel. That air comes from outside, so a filter needs to get rid of all the dirt, dust and other debris that might be carried in with it. Unfortunately, the air filter gets clogged up over time. Here are just five signs it's time to get a car service and replace a clogged air filter.
1. Decreased Fuel Efficiency
If your engine isn't getting enough oxygen, it needs to consume more fuel to produce power. As such, you'll quickly start to notice yourself pulling over more to gas up. This is particularly true of older models that don't have fuel-injected engines and onboard computers. Instead of continuing to pay more for gas each week, have the air filter changed.
2. Active Check Engine Light
Your Check Engine light can be something of an enigma since it can light up for a whole host of reasons; of course, all of them demand a trip to your local service centre or mechanic, so the end result is the same. When a clogged filter is to blame, it's because impeded air flow to the engine has affected the air-fuel ratio.
3. Unresponsive Performance
When your air filter gets extremely blocked, your vehicle's overall performance may be affected. A drop in horsepower and acceleration should be noticeable – just keep an eye on how fast you're accelerating next time you need to take off fast or pass another car on the highway. If your engine isn't receiving enough air, it's not going to be burning fuel properly to produce power. You may also notice delayed responsiveness and jerking movements when you press down on the accelerator.
4. Coughing Noises
If you don't get enough oxygen, you start to cough. Funnily enough, the same thing happens to your car's engine. Without a clear flow of air, it might start making loud coughing or spitting noises. This is a sign your air filter is seriously clogged.
5. Black Exhaust Smoke
Any type of exhaust smoke is bad news, and you should be particularly concerned when black smoke is coming out the rear end. It's not just unpleasant for you and other road users – it indicates a serious problem. When the air filter is to blame, it's because the engine hasn't been able to burn all the fuel going into the combustion cycle. This fuel enters the exhaust pipe, heats up and starts to burn.